10/21/10

White Sunday LDSamoan Style - A Tear Fest

My church (LDS) does not have a "White Sunday", per se. But it has its own version called The Primary Program. It is held on a Sunday in October or November depending on the local ward’s (congregation) schedule. Children between the ages of  4 and11 are assigned recitations (tauloto) based on the spiritual theme for the year. And they sing too. Even though it is not referred to as "White Sunday", the Primary Program, in all other aspects, mimics the White Sunday tradition of special treatment - and treats - for the children; they’re the little VIPs on this day.

This is the day when kids - to a noticeable degree - are transformed in their appearances. The little boys look immortal and youthful in their dark pants, white shirts and ties (or suits) while the girls look sophisticated and... uhmm ... Older! - all of ‘em. They display more change and make-over than the boys (unless a daring boy wants to be "Boy George").

The girls’ make-overs easily place them on a spectrum of divas on one end and young femmes fatales on the other. I’m sure the make-overs are not expensive, hence, nor time-consuming. All a mother needs at her disposal is the coveted curling iron (we all know what curls do to a little girl’s womanhood), some ribbons and an array of flowers from which to choose that perfect ginormous one - or ones, for the garish and the gaudy. And if the mother still decides to go the extra mile, the spangly look is simply irresistible, augmented by lipstick-dabbed-and-smeared cheeks. In a matter of minutes, her little girl qualifies for a Cindy Lauper or Madonna look-a-like contest.

By contrast, the boys are handsomely conservative. They rarely display any extremities in their appearances - not that they can’t. In fact, I’ve seen - within the last few years - a few fancy mohawks and shaved logos and letters/initials on some temples (no pun intended) or scruffs, and an earing or two;  all - which for the little boys - are definite anomalies in the LDS culture.

But underneath all that outward refashioning and transformation, lie the unmatched, undisturbed and unperturbed innocence, faith and holiness of them who have been likened unto those who will inherit "The Kingdom". The spirits of these "little ones" are so valiant, pure, penetrating and piercing that they humble you to the core. They literally make you cry and cause you to become crushed and broken if not remorseful and repentant of your own narcissism and pertinaciousness. Your adult tear-suppressing pride is subdued and you end up reaching for more tissues, or, if you’re a man, alternating the palm and back of your hand, and then your sleeve or coat cuffs next (not necessarily in that order). Now if you’re a man, and lucky, you’ll have a handkerchief, but if the children and their program have it their way, your handkerchief will be soaked wet and you will soon lose the feeling of being "chief" and feel only like a ..."hankie" - a dirty one, that is.

That’s how humbling it gets in the midst of these little ones, especially when they are teaching spirituality and moral lessons - verbally or otherwise, including the simplest of their most innocent idiosyncratic actions and gestures.

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